Know G-d’s Word as well as you know your name

Mishpatim (Judgements) Exodus/Sh’mot 21:1-24:18


Most of us reading this Torah portion today may feel these laws set out here were for a different time and have little to teach us in our modern world. Some may even consider these verses as only applying to a different world than our enlightened time we live in. We may go so far as to consider that the Messianic scriptures have given us a kinder and gentler version. I think to believe such a thing would rob us of the opportunity to see these verses still playing out their G-d given message in our day.


We see in the Messianic Scriptures many verses taken from our portion. In fact, the entire Tanach is still speaking to us in our world. To skip over these verses would rob us of a great treasure of G-d’s word. Always remember G-d spoke these words as much as He spoke the gospels and other books of the Messianic scripture. 

Here is a list of a few verses from the Messianic scripture that are drawn from our Parasha today.  


Galatians 6:2

Hebrews 13:16

Matthew 5:42

Romans 12:13

Matthew 5:16

Philippians 2:4 

Matthew 25:44-45

Luke 3:10-11

James 2:14-17

Luke 6:38

I John 3:17

Luke 12:33

Ephesians 4:32

Romans 12:17

Colossians 3:22

James 2:1-4

Matthew 7:12

Matthew 19:19 


Remember, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all spoke Hebrew and would have used these scriptures in their conversations and sermons.


Now, on to our Parasha. Last week, in our reading of Jethro, we saw this grand encounter between G-d and the people at the Mountain. Words in this portion are very familiar to us. We even know some by heart. However, this week we plunge into the details, release of slaves, liability for personal injury, protection of property and more. We must not lose sight of the fact that both of these portions are closely connected. You might say last week was the bones of the body while this week we add all the muscles, the connecting tissues and other details. My point here is we find G-d in the details of this portion.


It reminds me of building a house. We begin with the foundation, then we add the walls and roof. Soon however we get to the real details such as paint color, flooring and other details without which the house would not be complete. Here today we get to the details. These details are as G-d breathed and as important as the Ten Commandments. We live in the details each day. They show us how the broad picture is to play out in our day to day life.


For example, look at Exodus 22:26-27. These verses on the surface cover a single economic transaction. Someone borrows money and gives the lender his cloak as security for the loan. However, we see the verses make the point we should remember the human side too. This cloak may have been all the man had to keep himself warm at night. So our verse makes it clear the lender must look at the whole picture. He must return the cloak to him at night to keep him warm. If he does not, G-d will hear the poor man’s cries and have compassion on him. 


G-d is showing compassion on the poor and He is teaching His people to do the same. He expects our faith to make a difference in how we live our day and how we relate to the poor around us. G-d does not command compassion. He expects it to be a characteristic of how we live as believers.


In our portion we, through these examples, see how faith should work out in our daily lives. In Deut. 6:18 we read, “Do what is right and good in the L-rd’s sight.” G-d is in heaven, but we all are called as His people to honor Him here on earth by living our daily lives by His standard. We are to live out our time on earth as spiritual people governed by these principles we read in His word.


It is our responsibility to know G-d’s word as well as we know our own name. These details are what should guide our lives every day. These are the flesh on the bones or the paint color of our spiritual house.


A great Jewish historian of the first century after the Messiah wrote, “Should any one of our nation be asked about our laws he should repeat them as readily as his own name.” Remember Parasha Jethro from last week contained the vision but this portion contains the details and G-d is in the details as much as He is in the vision.